Published in the December 22, 2016 edition


NEWBURYPORT — Senior Bob O’Donnell’s outstanding 10-point and 28-rebound performance led North Reading to a hard fought 64-63 season opening victory over the host Newburyport Clippers.

Senior Jackson Tormey was impressive off the bench with a career high 16 points in Friday’s opener.

“This was a great effort tonight. We got gutsy efforts from a lot of guys in a very hostile environment,” commented head coach Joe Casey after the game.

“I’m really happy for Tormey; he paid his dues last year and when his number was called he really delivered for us. Also, O’Donnell simply dominated on the glass tonight,” Casey added.

It was a back and forth first quarter with neither team playing much defense. Senior Anthony Maldonado was great in the opening frame with 7 points. By the end of one the game was tied up at 24 all.

The Hornets switched up their defense in the second quarter to a half-court trap that suffocated the Clippers. North Reading subsequently outscored Newburyport 15-4 in the quarter. A late fast break layup by junior Burke Riesenberg gave the Hornets a 39-28 halftime lead.

Newburyport got back in the game with a quick 6-0 run to start the third quarter. For the rest of the quarter neither team was able to establish consistency. By the end of the third the North Reading lead had dwindled to 50-44.

It was a wild fourth. With under four minutes left senior Mike McCauley hit a three to put the Hornets up by 8. But poor shooting and turnovers allowed the Clippers to claw back to within two with 15 seconds left on the clock.

On the ensuing possession North Reading easily broke the full court press and sophomore Matt Solecki found a wide open McCauley for an easy layup to put the Hornets up 64-60.

Newburyport would hit a 3-pointer with three seconds left but North Reading was able to hang on for the victory.